Meet the power duo of Nicaragua
By: Anna Yesilevskiy
Rosario Murillo ran for vice president of Nicaragua and her running mate was her husband, Daniel Ortega who is the current president of Nicaragua. Murillo has an academic background in English and French and in the 1970s, she published poetry and worked at a newspaper. From 1980 to 1990, she worked as a newspaper culture editor, was the head of the Sandinista Cultural Workers’ Association, and the head of the Institute of Culture.
Murillo has also had a lot of experience working in politics and in government as she was a lawmaker, had to run Cabinet meetings and has helped create the social programs that have helped keep the Sandinista party popular.
Furthermore, after her husband became president of Nicaragua, she became more involved in the political scene and rose to fame as she represented Ortega overseas on diplomatic and trade missions. In addition to that, Murillo organized a beautification campaign in which “trees of life” sculptures were installed in the capital, which many citizens were happy about.
She also broadcasts television and social media messages. Concerning this, Christine Wade, a political scientist at Washington College stated that she believes that that is what has helped her rise to fame as she said, “I mean she’s in people’s homes all the time now. She’s become really the public face of the administration and I think that’s helped her popularity immensely.”
Thus, many Nicaraguans and those affiliated with the Sandinista party favored Murillo as she was polling at seventy percent of approval. However, there was some resistance to her running for vice president. Some believe that Murillo was running for president as part of Ortega’s plan to reign over the country.
“The Ortegas really seem to be intent on increasing the family’s control over much of Nicaraguan political, social and economic life. And so this would be a way to really guarantee that should something happen to him, the family control over Nicaraguan politics will continue.” Michael Allison, a political scientist at the University of Scranton said regarding the choice of Murillo as vice president.
Ortega’s supporters have also helped him go against constitutional amendments which let him run for another re-election as the Supreme Court and the Supreme Electoral Council blocked his opponents from running and also unseated all the lawmakers who were opposed to him running. Due to this occurrence, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that opposes U.S. loaning to Nicaragua from international institutions unless Nicaragua will begin to “hold free, fair and transparent elections.”
Monica Baltodano who was part of the Sandinista party and was a previous guerrilla commander said that Ortega and Murillo hope to create a “new dynasty.”
“And mafia-style, he picks his wife to give her the kind of institutional power that she already had de-facto.” Baltodano added on.
Furthermore in the past, there has been controversy over Murillo’s daughter, Zoilamerica who accused Ortega of sexually abusing her. Yet, Murillo defended her husband and the case was never prosecuted because of Ortega’s immunity from prosecution, as he is a member of Nicaragua’s congress.
Wade made a comment regarding this and said, “There’s definitely a segment of the population in women’s groups and in feminist groups and in human rights groups that I don’t think will ever forgive her the controversy over Zoilamerica.”
Students at the University gave their thoughts on Murillo running for vice president. Kaylee Simonson, a junior at the University said, “I think, if qualified, it would be fascinating to see the wife of the current president win the vice presidency, particularly because women are rarely given the opportunity to hold positions of political power. Although unfamiliar with her platform, I root for her in spirit and wonder what dinners at home are like for her and her husband.”
Another student at the University, senior Emma Jones said, “I think that it is important for women to be able to stand independently from their husbands and be able to go after things they want. There should be separation of professional and personal lives and I think that it’s great a husband and wife are running against each other.”
Despite all of the issues previously mentioned, Ortega has won the election and will begin his third term with his wife, Murillo as vice president.